457 visas scrapped: new visa rules explained: What it means, who will be affected

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Malcolm Turnbull is abolishing the 457 visa program for skilled migrants. Here is a look at how the new replacement scheme will work and what the announcement means for those currently on a 457 visa.

• The new visa program will include requirements around work experience, English language proficiency and labour market testing.

• The new visa will include a short term two-year stream with a broad list of occupations reduced from the current list of more than 200.

• A second visa class, focused on strategic, long-term skills gaps will have a four-year limit and require a higher standard of English than the two-year visa.

• Both visas will require prior work experience.

• Both visas will require a criminal record check, which is not currently required.

• The four-year visa would also require mandatory labour market testing in the majority of cases.

• The new two-year visa will not allow permanent residency.

• Anyone now in Australia on a 457 visa will not be affected by the new arrangements and will continue under their current conditions.

• The new scheme will require employers to advertise jobs before filling them with foreign workers.

• A fee of $1,150 will apply for the short term visa, while medium-term applicants will pay $2,400.

• A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.

• Strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers.

• The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records.

Eligibility requirements for employer sponsored permanent skilled visas will be tightened.

• English language requirements will be stricter.

• A requirement for visa applicants to have at least three years’ work experience.

• Applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application.

• Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold set at $53,900 as at 12 April 2016.

Concessions for regional Australia will continue to be available:

• Employers in regional Australia will continue to have access to occupations under the temporary and permanent visas, to reflect their skills needs.

• Existing permanent visa concessions for regional Australia, such as waiving the nomination fee and providing age exemptions for certain occupations, will be retained.

• Consideration will be given to expanding the occupations in regional Australia that are exempt from the age requirement.

List of removed occupations

The Department of Immigration has published the list of jobs removed from the new visa regime. They include actors; pilots, butchers, flight attendents, futures traders; jockeys, public relations managers, radio journalists, web developers. Read the full list here.

The current 457 visa

There are currently 95,000 457 visa holders in Australia, Mr Turnbull said.

The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows skilled workers to come to Aust ralia and work for an approved business for up to four years, according to the border.gov.au site. Applicants must be sponsored by an approved business, but only if the business cannot find an Australian citizen to do the work. The visa holder can then work in Australia until the visa expires and travel in and out of Australia. If the visa holder ceases to be employed with the sponsor for more than 60 days the visa becomes invalid.

India has the highest number of workers granted 457 applications in 2016-17 to September 30 last year, followed by the UK and then China.

You can read the full 457 visa latest quarterly report here.

What Turnbull said

“The fact remains Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs … We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians. The new visa will better target genuine skills shortages, including in regional Australia.”

Reaction

“Labor presided over a policy which got out-of-control by their own admission. What we are doing is making some significant changes in abolishing the program, but introducing a temporary skills shortage visa through two streams.” – Immigration Minister Peter Dutton

“They’ve been the government for four years. We’ve got 1.13 million people who are underemployed not getting enough hours of work. We’ve seen the scandals of 7-11 and other rip-offs of foreign visa workers and we’ve got a lot of Australians who say they would like to get work but instead it’s going to temporary foreign labour.” – Bill Shorten

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